Marrow transplant a second chance

SARAH CODDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
Amanda Iese
SAVING LIVES: Amanda Iese, who is in remission from acute myeloid leukaemia, watches on while Mangere East resident Horowai Broederlow donates blood.

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A simple bone marrow transplant gave Amanda Iese a second chance at life - now she's encouraging others to help save lives.

At just 20 years old Amanda was facing an uncertain future after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a type of blood cancer, and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.

"I was very scared. My family and I were waiting so long to see if I was going to live," she says.

The Glen Innes resident's siblings were not a match and couldn't donate so the search for a donor was extended to the New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry and then to international registries.

A donor of Samoan descent came forward from the United States and Amanda, now 23, is in remission from the disease.

"You only have one life and it's priceless. There are many young people out there fighting to live," she says.

Mangere East's Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints held a blood drive last Wednesday to encourage people to donate and Amanda attended.

Church member and registered nurse Harriet Pauga says it is especially important for Pacific Islanders to donate blood or bone marrow and more is needed in New Zealand's registry.

"Pacific Islanders don't usually go and donate blood on their own.

"But if their church leaders encourage them to come in to donate there is a better result," she says.

A bone marrow donor and the patient must have matching tissue types. If a donor is not found within the family a match is usually found with someone of the same ethnicity.

"It's important to donate because you just never know who may need it," Amanda says. Seventy-five people came through the church doors on Wednesday and 58 donations were made at the blood drive.

Those donations could potentially help save 174 lives. Each donation can save the lives of up to three people, including cancer patients, accident victims or babies and pregnant women.

Only about 4 per cent of New Zealand's adult population donates blood.

Around 42,000 patients are treated with blood or blood products in New Zealand each year.

Call 0800 448 325 to book an appointment to donate blood to the New Zealand Blood Service.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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